JIS News

Consultant in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, at the Ministry of Justice, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, has said that the impending Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), would serve to broaden the rights of the average Jamaican.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on December 8, Professor Vasciannie explained that currently, persons wishing to appeal to the Privy Council on matters concerning fundamental rights and freedoms, had to seek leave or “special leave” to do so. It was not an automatic right, he pointed out.
However, with the establishment of the CCJ, no special leave would be necessary. “Such a plea will be a matter of right,” he stressed, adding that the CCJ would make it an automatic right and that this was an important development.
“The agreement establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice and the legislation to be put into effect.give everyone the right to appeal to the CCJ, on matters falling under fundamental rights and freedoms in the Constitution,” he said.
Still on the matter of human rights, the Consultant noted that the Jamaican government intended to amend the Constitution, thereby widening the rights to be enjoyed by Jamaicans.
Professor Vasciannie explained that a Charter of Rights Bill would replace the current chapter in the Jamaican Constitution, on Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. The Charter, he said, would retain all the rights that are currently preserved, but would add a number of new principles.
“One of these new principles is that one cannot discriminate on the grounds of gender,” he said.
“Under the current Constitution there are rules to the effect that you cannot discriminate on grounds of political opinion, place of origin, race, but it does not say anything about gender, which I think may be a reflection of the time the Constitution came into being. But the amendment in the Charter of Rights Bill would make sure that gender discrimination is unconstitutional,” the Professor added.
The ‘Think Tank’ was held to coincide with International Human Rights Day, which was observed on December 10.

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